“A lighthouse warns of danger–tells people to keep their distance. She had mistaken it for a place of safety.” p. 227
But, as I’m often reminded, “Where in this world is there a place of safety? There is no where we can go which guarantees our safety, emotionally or physically. And Isabel finds herself in a very dangerous place indeed, on the Janus lighthouse, in Australia, after three miscarriages.
It seems a perfect solution to her bereft life when a dinghy comes to shore containing a dead man and a baby. Isabel’s husband, Tom, wants to report the arrival immediately. But, he succumbs to his wife’s pleas to keep the baby for just one night.
“Just one night” extends into a time period when it is virtually impossible to announce that they have found a baby, for this baby has become theirs as surely as if she had arrived by natural birth.
In a taut and terrible tension the reader waits while knowing that this cannot last. One set of parents cannot get away for long with claiming a baby in secret. Where are the child’s birth parents? How must they be feeling? What is the mystery behind the man’s death? Most importantly, how can this all be solved without a tremendous amount of pain? How do we handle loss and longing, “for we always have a choice”.
I wept when I read the conclusion. But it is the only possible way for the story to end, for a child caught between two mothers.
Just as the lighthouse is between two oceans.